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Wednesday Wind Down: Bricklayer

Hi, Sweethearts!

OK, I am still on a high from watching Boss: The Black Experience in Business – a documentary about African-American history in entrepreneurship and business industries. If you haven’t seen it, please do. Definitely a must-see. Here’s a play-by-play of how it all went down in my world. Special Shoutout to Carmen Mays, Founder of Elevators on 4th, and my alma mater UAB for hosting this event and reminding Birmingham of the juggernaut of Black entrepreneurship she was and will continue to be.

boss film uab

BEFORE THE FILM

20190716_175221.jpgI have a confession to make. Networking events are not at the top of my social list. It’s where my introversion leaps out to block my smile and I have to overshadow her by scanning the room for people I know and introducing myself to people I don’t. In all that I do that involves others (blogging, dancing, and massage therapy), solitude is where I am cozy.

So, what did I do? I made my introverted nemesis attend the pre-film reception. I’m also recovering from a knee injury and walking from my car to the event space was the longest distance I had accomplished without using my crutches. Needless to say, I was ready to sit down. While familiar faces wove in and out of their elements, I shared sincere laughs with another great businesswoman in my state and we decided to sit together during the film.

Me – 1
Nemesis – 0

DURING THE FILM

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I tried to capture a few notes, but only if the visual stayed the same. As soon as it changed, I looked up fast like a little kid with a bad case of FOMO before bed. Throughout the film, I was infused with strength. It would have been easy to be angry at the injustice, but I was undoubtedly empowered. Fortified. The stories of my ancestral heroes sealed the natural cracks in my entrepreneurial foundation. Some of the stories, I knew and taught my students. Others, I learned for the first time. I sat forward with my hands clasped at times and in other moments I smiled in awe.

What a beautiful rocky road of Black determination, I thought. Seriously. We were given manure and we made it grow – over, and over, and over again. Our money was stolen and we generated more like a prosthetic limb. We pumped the life-blood into ourselves after being left for dead. Agriculture. Banking. Hair. Clothing. We are a force to be reckoned with no matter which decade you decide to slice. I recalled my first time reading Ebony, Jet, Black Enterprise, and Essence as their humble beginnings were told in front of me. To see bursts of Color in a monochromatic printed world was lifechanging. Seeds of cultural self-esteem were planted within me at an early age and watching these gladiators of vision and ingenuity reminded me of their fruits manifested through today’s industry moguls. I sighed and smiled again to see such relentless prowess right before my eyes.

AFTER THE FILM

20190716_195315.jpgI sat up straighter. My back was stronger and my neck held my chin a bit higher. My hearty handclaps might as well have been among a sea of applause at Carnegie-Hall.  I felt so proud. So tall. As an African-American Woman Entrepreneur, I am walking on the bricks of hard labor and I get the immutable opportunity to place my own brick along that historical trail.

Black business owners have proven that skin color should never override intelligence and passion. We are beyond capable of building a present and a future for ourselves and others – nationally and internationally. Regardless of the opposition of ignorance, we continue to showcase dexterity and incredible resilience. Can you imagine the escalating levels of repeated faith it takes to accomplish such feats? I can’t imagine. To create decades of legacies without an Ellis Island is an irrefutable honor that should never be undermined or forgotten. 

Lastly, I also realized that I am exactly where I should be. To be reminded that those pillars of strength began with pennies in their pockets was just the juice I needed keep my energy going. Six months ago, I plunged into full-time entrepreneurship after my school closed, and it has been an exceptional journey. I have no complaints, but people often romanticize the life of owning a business and I couldn’t help but smile to know that my grit was in good company. My scars were in the right place. My tired eyes could still see my ancestors rooting for me. My hands were still capable of facilitating my dreams just like their cotton-picking fingers repeatedly reached for hope. My heart was still able to incubate their fire for economic freedom. My spirit was still synonymous with theirs and my feet could still walk forward on the bricks of their backs — one day, allowing someone to step on mine. Let’s keep building, America.

You don’t have to lose who you are to be successful.
Cathy Hughes, Founder of Radio One –

Peace & Thanks for listening! Keep shining!

boss film pbs

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#bloglikecrazy: Day 11 – The Game

The Good

#10 – I had a movie night with my pRHOphyte Cindy… and won!

So, there’s this game that my pRHOphyte and I play and I finally won… after 17 years. She’s one of the founding members of my sorority’s chapter at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a serious movie buff. I try to stump her by picking a movie that she’s never seen and until this year, I would lose… horribly. This is usually how it goes:

ME: “Oooooo, Cindy, I got one for you this time! It’s a good one!”

CINDY: *giggles* “OK. What’s the name of it?”

ME: *insert movie title here*

CINDY: “Oh, yeah, that’s the one where she *insert scene description here*. That is a good one.”

ME:  *face palm*

See my plight? See why I’m excited? You try going through that year after year and see where your cinematic self-esteem goes. Well, this time, I picked one she had never seen and she loved it. Woohoo!

The Lesson

Find something to enjoy with people you care about and set a date! It’s fun to share something different with different people in your circle and there’s a way to uniquely connect with each of your friends.

Ruby Tuesday may not be their thing and they may hate hiking, but they may love bowling and get excited about NASCAR or history. Whatever it is, find it and share it with them. You may love it, hate it, or truthfully, you may enjoy the same sports team but hate watching the game together. lol! At the end of the day, extend yourself a bit and enjoy something together. You may be surprised by how strong your bond can truly be.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Happy Veteran’s Day to all military service personnel and their families! Fellow civilians, have you paid your vet-debt-a today?

flag america patriotic veteran
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

5 Things You Must Do On A Snow Day

Good Afternoon, Sweethearts!

Did you enjoy the snow? Is it still around? Here in Birmingham, Alabama, it’s starting to melt, but ice is still lurking on the roads. I hope you’re safe, warm, and smiling.

The snow day couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just closed the fall quarter and I hibernate the day after finals to recuperate my mind, body, and soul. Even my mother tries not to call me the day after finals. Sweet Woman.

Since God blessed me with snow on my day off, I did 5 things that made me feel awesome. I think they make fine ingredients for any snow day to feel like the Son is shining on you. If you did anything that made your day, share it!

  1. SLEEP! SLUMBER! REST!
    • Confession – This is one thing I do not do well on a consistent basis. Running a performing arts troupe, writing your soul free, and educating Birmingham’s Finest can make make feel like I’m running on fumes at times. So when my friend texted me a snowy picture, I smiled. It was officially a rest day. I think getting a few winks in when you’ve missed a million is a great way to recharge!
  2. REFLECT.
    • There’s something about the stillness of snow that makes me just sit and watch. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to drive. I want to reflect on how cool it is…. fluffy goodness floating from the sky. It quiets the world for a little bit. It makes me be careful. It forces me to gaze at the winter wonderland around me that I zoom past everyday. So, I took a few pictures to remind myself to do more of that when life gets busier in 2018.
  3. PLAY OUTSIDE!
    • After the spiritual battery has been charged, then I want to play. My footsteps make art as I look back at them in the snow, plus my miniature schnauzer had a blast trying to eat it. I laughed watching my aunt make snow angels. There’s just something about snow that makes the 5-year-old you feel safe to show out. Throwing snowballs and trying to make snow sculptures are what snow is made for, right? lol
  4. EAT!
    • When it’s cold outside, you simply must eat something warm inside. My vice of choice yesterday? #1 – PANCAKES! I was so hungry when from my self-care, that pancakes and hot tea were the only items on my menu. #2 – QUESO and tortilla chips. But, it’s not just any queso dip. I made my favorite recipe that I conjured up in college. Dorm living will make a chef out of anyone. lol It includes shrimp, ground turkey, cilantro, corn, and diced tomatoes (and sometimes a hint of bacon). The dip was oh so heavenly as I curled up to watch one of my favorite movies.
  5. WATCH A MOVIE.
    • Me, my bowl of queso, my sweatpants, and my fuzzy socks enjoyed one of my favorite movies – Something New (2006). If you’ve never seen it, get ready for some humor, some sensitive topics, and just good old-fashioned Rom-Com (romantic comedy) moments. Curling up on the couch after a long day of self-care was the perfect ending to my classroom duties and the perfect beginning of a well-deserved break.

What do you like to do during a snow day? Do you have favorite foods that taste better during winter weather? Are there movies that you must watch?

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Stay safe out there!

Photo of my awesome aunt and my super dog courtesy of moi.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 18 – Together

Three people. One day. All the feels.

It began with a tutoring appointment with a former student who is determined not to let anything stop her from graduating, including her English paper. I challenged her and she made me laugh. She stepped outside of her essay-writing comfort zone and I helped her see her thoughts on paper. She left the session equipped and excited to keep going. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes and made me proud to be an educator.

Next, I had lunch with sweet friend from high school. She and I were in band together and I always thought her hair color and freckles were cool. She had a quiet strength that I admired and we became friends quickly. Now that we’re grown, we had grown-folk conversation and it was lovely. We vented, we cried, we laughed. I was proud to be a friend… and her freckles and hair color still rock.

Then, it was time for my cousin’s baby shower which, might I add, was a night time swag affair. Live music, baby shower games, good food and laughs made this shower worth the cold rainy drive. I’m well acquainted with both parents, so it was great to anticipate my new cousin’s arrival. As I helped clean up, the running theme was clear. I was proud to be family.

Afrer all three settings, the word that stuck out was TOGETHER. My former student’s essay challenge wasn’t so mountainous after we met for tutoring. My friend and I didn’t feel alone in our life lessons after lunch. My family’s shower was better because everyone could share the experience. On that day, life was better together. 

Sweethearts, I pray that if you’re feeling lonely and life’s bumps are giving you bruises, that you remember that you are not alone. Lonely and alone are not the same. You can feel lonely in a crowded room. I’ve been there, and wisdom has taught me that you have someone who wants to be better together with you. Be careful, but let her or him in your heart’s circle and watch the healing begin. We were not designed to do life alone. Your problems may not go away quicker, but you’ll be stronger together as the storm passes by.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Gear Up

After reading 1 Samuel, Chapter 17 –

Lately, I keep being reminded that the battles I’ve won before are preparing me for what’s to come. When God gives me repeated messages, I spiritually sit up. My YouVersion devotional “The Most Excellent Way to Lead” by Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church dropped another bass note on the track to get my attention this week and I just had to share it with you.

In 1 Samuel 17, David is obeying his father by going to check on his brothers on the battle field and he grows offended by Goliath’s proclamations to annihilate the Israelites. For 40 days, the Philistine stood morning and evening talking trash and by the looks of his stature alone, he could back it up.

David was the youngest son of Jesse the Bethlehemite and yet had the strongest passion to silence Goliath. His intentions were in question by his oldest brother, but the accusation didn’t stop him. When Saul misjudged his ability to slay the giant, David went down his list of victories. There was no second thought, no “Maybe you’re right. I just came to give my brothers some cheese, so let me go back home.” No, he recalled his past battles and that he was only standing there ready to fight because he was already a winner. A lion, a bear, and a rescued lamb served as the proof. I was encouraged just visualizing it. Besides being in the lineage of Jesus, David is also known as an archetype or foreshadowing of Him. That got me excited again by the time I finished the chapter although I have read it numerous times. Apparently, there was a different purpose for this passage in my life.

Have you ever felt like this? That you were training for the next fight, and it’s scheduled in a bigger boxing ring than the last time?

I have…and I’m here now, looking ahead like Rocky Balboa getting ready for Apollo, the second time. I remember this feeling of anticipation training and I have learned not to ignore it. There’s always a purpose for it, so I take it seriously; however, for some reason, I keep forgetting that this isn’t my first fight. This isn’t my first bout in the ring. I’ve survived many opportunities to die. I’ve overcome many obstacles with the strength of God. My heart has been stepped on more times than I can count, but it keeps bouncing back, ready to love and live. It’s resilient because God is my Father and Jesus is my Champion. I’m already a winner. My rescued life is the proof.

So whatever battle is coming over the horizon, it is no match for my testimony and my training. It may have looked like I was just tending sheep, but in actuality, I’ve been gearing up. I am not afraid… I will be ready when it comes.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

To learn more about the devotional I’m reading, visit www.mostexcellentwaytolead.com.

Photo: Mickey training Rocky

I held it in my open-faced hands like gold from a Pharaoh’s tomb. It was here. Finally. And I was touching it with my soul.

The connection I felt when I slid my fingers across the slick cover… it was an intimate moment. I had done it. I had published a book. My book. The one that I started nine years ago after being laid off, wondering what I was going to do next. I thought I had found my dream job, but the garden in which it was located could no longer provide financial fruit. The book was my private little project. For awhile, no one even knew that I was writing. It was preciously scary. I didn’t want to contaminate the imaginative outcome I steadily played out in my head – girl writes book, book does well, girl gets paid, girl travels the world and girl works for herself. It was a ludicrous movie that replayed over and over again and I didn’t want it stop, so I didn’t tell anyone. I kept the tickets to myself and attended my cerebral theater alone throughout graduate school, until she came. Nancy. A she-fox that would rock my planet with the belief that my little secret movie could be realized. Here she was in Birmingham, Alabama with a publishing company, books, paintings, jewelry, music… and all I could think was “How?” and “Can I do it too?” She forced me to see beyond my sight and work toward my vision. I let her in and she got a front row seat to my secret movie and didn’t flinch. She smiled and I felt safe. She began to share with me and I with her. I had a gained a friend and Shero.

I’ll never forget the thorns and rocks along this road, the people I’ve gained and lost, the tears I cried in angst, the prayers I repeated, the fear hovering  nearby in trees of doubt, and the joy I felt when I typed END on the manuscript. The breath I held the first time I gave it to her seemed to last forever, just like it did when I heard she died. I stopped walking along the road and let the vines grow into my secret theater. I didn’t want to write and it pained me to think about it. Spiritual cobwebs caught my words every time someone asked “So, how’s your book going?” I dreaded the answer. It was deathly to think of cracking the doors open and letting sunshine in the wounded halls of my heart… but I did. Now, my book, the fruit of hands, was sitting in my lap and it was seducing me. I wanted to open it up and enjoy the exterior all at the same time. After holding it next to my heart for a few minutes, I laughed at the rear view of the road to fruition. I couldn’t believe how faithful God had been. When He said that He would bless the work of my hands, I didn’t fathom that some days my hands would feel empty and barren. That materializing my thoughts wasn’t a lie I kept feeding myself. I was a writer. Always had been. In the back of my grandmother’s car was always a writing stick and some paper. I even found out along the road that my biological father wrote poetry. So, my secret movie wasn’t so secret after all.

We can all be discouraged as we peer down the road ahead and see the shadows of the unknown. But we have to keep going. We have cling to the truth that we are seeds and seeds have to buried and/or watered in order to fulfill their purpose. The dirt will be isolating and the water will make us feel like we’re drowning, but we are made from both elements, so we will not die. We will grow. We will thrive. We will live out loud. After all, someone needs the fruit that we are destined to produce. Keep dreaming, keep walking, and keep working, my friend. You’re on a road, not in a box.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

*By the way, I found this daffodil beauty along my walk this morning. Sweet.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 17 – I Can Do It Better

“Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you!”

Have you ever heard that song? It’s one of my favorites. I know the feminist undertone makes it an anthem, but my truth is that there are some things that I can not do better than someone else. On the other hand, there are things that I truly can do better… but it doesn’t mean I should.

Here’s a short stop for you before the workweek hits you like a ton of bricks.

Analyze what you can do and whether you do it well. See if there is anything holding you back from doing it better. Seek ways to enhance yourself. Regroup by reading. Sign up for a free class or lecture. Shadow someone you deem an expert and even someone you deem less than perfect. You may think you can do a lot of things better than someone else, but the passenger-seat-syndrome will do that to you. Instead of competing against someone, compete with yourself. You won’t get it all at once, but you will get it.

If I can teach a 65-year-old miner how to use email and he used that skill to change careers, you can get better at something too. Be patient and apply everything within you to beat your last score.

You can do it, Champ. I believe in you. I believe in us. Let’s do this.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo from Annie Get Your Gun

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